How to Cut Down Your Electric Bill

How to Cut Your Electricity Bill without Really Trying
It’s fall – a good time to take a fresh look at your bills to see if you can reduce them. For example, try these tips to cut your power usage and lower your electricity bills.

Switch to LED bulbs. About four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, LEDs last for years. The “lumens” number indicates the amount of light emitted; use this to compare bulbs.

Install a programmable thermostat. With this device, you can automatically adjust the temperature to reflect where you are in your day – busy at home, away at work, asleep, etc. It keeps your home comfortable when you’re there and reduces energy use when you’re out.

Unplug unused electrical devices. All electronic devices sip small amounts of electricity even when they are not in use.

Use timers and power strips to turn electrical devices on and off. A power strip with an on/off switch can block the charge going into the strip itself as well as anything plugged into it.

Lower the temperature on your hot water heater. A hot water heater accounts for about 14% of energy usage in a typical home. Turn the temperature down when you’re not at home and up when you’re doing laundry or bathing. You can also install a water heater blanket to hold the heat.

Last but not least, air seal your home to prevent drafts around doors and windows, and ditch that old power-hungry refrigerator in your garage that’s only chilling a few cases of soda.

Now you can relax and enjoy saving!

Cycling in the Urban Jungle? Three Things to Consider

Experienced cyclists in most big North American cities will tell you two things: one, biking is the best, most efficient way to get around, and two, it can be quite dangerous.

In fact, most cities don’t have an extensive network of bike lanes, and drivers often encroach on cyclists’ space or open their doors without looking. But it’s not all one-sided; many cyclists either don’t know – or ignore – the rules of the road.

Want to bike happily and safely in big cities? Consider the following:

Think like a driver

Cyclists still have to follow the laws and the etiquette of the road. Safe-driving behavior – stopping fully at stop signs, signaling, yielding, and looking around you – apply to cycling too.

Respect your fellow cyclists

Leapfrogging other cyclists, following too closely, and not giving plenty of notice of turns or stops can all cause accidents that could send you and other riders flying onto the curb, or worse, into vehicle traffic.

Take up your space

As Andrew Small noted in a recent CityLab article, cyclists have the right to a lane even though they’re slower. It’s safer because “… it gives a bike much more visibility to drivers.” If cyclists hug curbs or stick close to parked cars, they’re putting themselves in harm’s way. But note: while this is true in most jurisdictions, there may be exceptions, and regardless, many drivers find this hard to swallow, which may put cyclists at further risk.

Mutual respect is the answer. So, as the yellow road signs suggest: Share the Road.

Into Solar? Your Social Media Friends Will Soon Know

If you’re planning to install solar panels on your roof, your friends will soon know, thanks to Google’s “Project Sunroof.”

As Google explains, Project Sunroof is a free online solar calculator that helps you map the potential savings from converting your roof to solar. Its objective: to map earth’s solar potential “one roof at a time.”

Panels that absorb the sun’s energy and convert it to heat or electricity are covering rooftops around the globe, encouraged by any number of factors including financial (solar energy can be a cost-effective way to generate electricity) and now peer pressure.

The newest addition to Project Sunroof shows a red dot on homes that appear to have solar panels.

According to Robinson Meyer in a recent CityLab post, it “will now not only inform users how much sun hits their roof, or how much solar panels would save them per month, but also which of their neighbors have taken the plunge first.”

Why is that important? Writes Meyer, “One of the best predictors of whether people install solar panels on their house isn’t their age, their race, their level of income, or their political affiliation … It’s whether their neighbors did it first.”

Google is hoping take-up numbers will be driven by the desire to be the first in one’s social media network to hop on the new bandwagon. And that could swell as more “influencers” opt to participate and bring their followers along.

So check out Project Sunroof, install, and just wait for the online accolades.

Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
How has the price of your home changed in today’s market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you’re wondering what’s happening to prices in your area, or you’re thinking about selling your house, I’ll be able to help.

Click the market report below or select San Antonio Real Estate Market and complete the requested information about your home!

Millennials’ Homeownership Dreams Can Come True
For many millennials, the dream of homeownership feels far away, if not impossible. Salaries that haven’t grown with the cost of living, new mortgage rules, volatile housing markets, and a plethora of other reasons have made buying a home more difficult than it’s ever been for young people.

A survey by Apartment List of 24,000 American renters found that 80% of millennial renters want to become homeowners, but 72% are held back by affordability. Some 44% don’t have savings to put toward a down payment.

Many who find themselves in that position are trying to reach their homeownership goals with second and even third jobs in order to save extra money. Some are moving to smaller towns where housing is cheaper, while others are living with Mom and Dad in order to save on rent. But Fundrise, a Washington, D.C.-based start-up, has another, more creative solution.

Fundrise is a real estate crowdfunding start-up that sells shares in “eFunds” that build and/or remodel urban housing. An investor can be part of an eFund for $1,000, and the target audience is millennials.

Notes a recent Forbes article on the project: “(T)he goal is for a subset of the fund investors to become owners of the very places their money is helping build. Fundrise calls these ‘homebuyer investors’ or HBIs.”

So if a millennial could invest in a property today, he or she could be taking advantage of gains toward what might eventually become his or her home.

As well, says Forbes writer Samantha Sharf: “Fundrise’s effort is unique in tackling the dearth of affordable supply, which many economist [sic] agree is the biggest issue in the housing market today.”

The Fundrise project launched this past summer, so it’s too early to assess its success in encouraging new supply or in attracting millennials.
But this initiative may soon become one of many – millennials deserve their shot at homeownership too.

SA Realty Watch Group
facebook Twitter Linked In
Want to Sell Your Home Fast? Get My Free Guide
Preparing your home for sale can make the difference between getting the price you want – or ending up disappointed.

Discover some easy things you can do by requesting my free guide, “50 Tips to Prepare Your Home for a Speedy, Top-Price Sale.”

Just reply to this email and I’ll send it right out to you.

Quick Quiz
Each month I’ll give you a new question.

Just reply to this email for the answer.

Why are squirrels credited with planting thousands of trees?

Grilled Zucchini Kabobs
Serves 6
6 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
4 medium zucchinis, cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Lemon wedges
Preheat grill on medium-high heat.

In a bowl combine the feta, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and mint. Set aside.

Toss the zucchini and onion with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Thread vegetables onto skewers, alternating the two.

Grill on lightly oiled rack for about 6-8 minutes or until tender and slightly charred.

Transfer vegetables to a platter and top with the feta cheese mixture. Serve with additional lemon wedges.

Ask the Agent: This Month’s Question
How do I sell my home in a buyers’ market?

Selling a home in a buyers’ market can be stressful. And these days, even in a sellers’ market you can’t take anything for granted; the market may change quickly and dramatically. But flexibility and thoroughness can help make your selling experience positive.

Keep your price expectations realistic. Your real estate agent will find market comparables showing what houses in your area sold for and how long they spent on the market. The market determines the price – not you. Don’t worry if this year isn’t like last year. Focus on today.

You can, however, help your home sell faster. Prepare for offers with conditions, and be flexible about closing, or even moving, dates. A home inspection may identify potential problems you may not be aware of and can fix before listing. Listen. List. Show flexibility. And the experience can still be a positive one.

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –